Features of successful sexual health promotion programs for young people: Findings from a review of systematic reviews

Anna L. Bowring, Cassandra J.C. Wright, Caitlin Douglass, Judy Gold, Megan S.C. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Issue addressed: Young people have a high burden of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) problems, and it is important to reach this group through health promotion initiatives. We conducted a systematic review of reviews to identify successful elements of health promotion programs for improving SRH of young people. Methods: We identified and collated systematic reviews published in 2005-2015 which focused on young people (10-24 years), reported on SRH outcomes (pregnancy, sexually transmissible infections, condoms/contraceptive use, risky sexual behaviour, sexual healthcare access or intimate partner violence), and included primary studies predominantly conducted in high-income countries. This report focuses on features of successful SRH programs identified in the interpretation and discussion of included systematic reviews. Results: We identified 66 systematic reviews, of which 37 reported on program features which were anecdotally or statistically associated with improved program effectiveness and success. Common features of effective interventions were: longer term or repeated implementation; multi-setting and multi-component; parental involvement; culturally/gender/age appropriate; and inclusion of skills-building. So what?: There is marked consistency of features improving SRH program effectiveness for young people despite the wide variation in interventions reviewed. There is a need to better implement this knowledge in future programs, and our findings provide useful guidance for optimising the design of SRH interventions for young people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-57
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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